Why Are My Teeth Sensitive?
Tooth sensitivity is pretty common. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, at least 40 million adults suffer from sensitive teeth in the United States. Dr. Kacos, an emergency dentist in Shreveport, LA, describes it as a sudden, sharp flash of pain when the teeth are exposed to cold, hot, sweet, or acidic foods and air. However, tooth sensitivity causes can be from more than what you eat and drink.
Healthy teeth are covered by a hard layer of enamel. This layer protects the part of your teeth that is exposed above the gum line, the crown. Another layer called the cementum protects the tooth root under the gum line. Under these two protective layers, there is the dentin. Unlike the crown and the cementum, dentin is less dense, and it contains microscopic canals. When the dentin is exposed, these microscopic canals can allow heat, cold, sticky, or acidic foods to reach the nerves and cells within the tooth. This causes tooth sensitivity.
What Triggers this Sensitivity?
Once the dentin is exposed, there are several things that can trigger sensitivity, including:
- Cold foods and beverages
- Hot food and beverages
- Acidic foods and beverages
- Sweet foods and beverages
- Brushing or flossing your teeth
- Alcohol-based mouthwashes
Depending on the severity, it may affect one tooth, several teeth, or all your teeth. Sensitivity is a relatively treatable condition, but the root cause must be identified. As a general dentist in Shreveport LA, Dr. Kacos explains that treating the sensitivity without finding out why your teeth are sensitive is only a short term treatment.
Causes of Enamel/Cementum Wear Down
Or, more specifically, what can wear down the enamel and cementum, thereby exposing dentin to the elements? Well, the more common causes include brushing your teeth too hard, using a hard toothbrush, regularly eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages, or grinding your teeth at night, also known as bruxism.
Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), a condition that causes acid to come up from the stomach and esophagus and wear down the teeth, will also result in sensitivity over time.
Gastroparesis, a disorder that occurs when the stomach takes too long to empty food, bulimia, and other conditions that cause frequent vomiting, will also lead to teeth sensitivity.
You may also experience sensitivity if you’ve recently had work done on your teeth, specifically getting fillings, crowns, or having them bleached. The tooth decay that causes cavities irritates the tooth, and filling the cavities causes even more irritation. Fortunately, this kind of sensitivity wears off with time. If your teeth feel sensitive when biting down soon after getting a filling, Dr. Ben Kacos can help with a simple bite adjustment.
Treatment for Sensitive Teeth
If your teeth feel sensitive whenever you eat or drink something, contact your dentist as soon as possible, as it may be indicative of an even bigger issue. Since teeth sensitivity can be caused by a variety of issues, your dentist will have to first pinpoint exactly why your teeth are feeling sensitive before offering a tailored solution.
Some at-home treatments for mild sensitivity that may be recommended by your dentist include using desensitizing toothpaste, using a fluoridated mouthwash daily, avoiding highly acidic foods, and investing in a soft-bristled toothbrush. If the sensitivity is caused by teeth grinding at night, Dr. Chris Green, our friend, and Parker CO dentist recommend a mouthguard to combat the grinding. Cracked and decayed teeth can be fixed through bonding, using inlays and crowns.
If the sensitivity isn’t as mild and is the result of a medical condition, such as GERD, it can be treated with acid reducers, while bulimia should be treated under a supervising psychiatrist. Receding gums can be treated by gentle brushing and maintaining good oral hygiene, but in severe cases, a gum graft may be necessary.
If you’ve been experiencing tooth sensitivity, don’t let it bring you down. It is a fairly common condition, and Shreveport’s dentist Dr. Ben Kacos will help you beat the condition in no time. Swift action will eliminate the underlying issues behind the sensitivity, ensuring your smile remains healthy, strong, and pain-free. Contact Shreveport LA dentist today for a consultation.