Tooth Sensitivity: What Causes It and How Can It Be Prevented?

Sensitive teeth can prevent you from enjoying your favorite frozen treat in the summer or a hot apple cider in the fall. It can even make brushing your teeth painful. While sensitive teeth may be caused by a cavity or infection, there are many different reasons why teeth can become sensitive. Keep reading to learn how teeth can become sensitive and how you can prevent it from happening. 

The first and most important thing to know about sensitive teeth is that it is an indicator that something is wrong. Sometimes, the problem is simple and requires minor changes to fix it. Other times, you may need to see your dentist to have the problem solved. If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, you should visit your dentist to rule out any issues that need immediate attention. 

Issues that may need immediate attention include cavities or infections. Teeth can become sensitive when there is a cavity or if there is an infection in the tooth or the gums. Signs that a tooth is infected include: 

  • Sensitivity 
  • Pain while chewing 
  • Sore gums 
  • A dark spot on the tooth 

Signs there is a gum infection include: 

  • Loose teeth 
  • Red, irritated gums 
  • Bleeding gums 
  • Painful gums 

In these cases, your dentist will need to take immediate action to resolve the infection and prevent any further spreading. 

In other cases, your teeth may be sensitive because of worn-down enamel. This can happen in many different ways. The first thing you should look at is how you are brushing your teeth. If you are using a toothbrush with stiff bristles or are applying too much pressure when brushing, you could actually be damaging your enamel. All you need are soft bristles and a light touch. 

The next thing to look at is what you are eating and drinking. Acidic food can eat away at our enamel if consumed too frequently. Citrus fruits are still great for our health, but they should be consumed in moderation. Acidic drinks like pop and energy drinks should be enjoyed sparingly, if at all.

In addition, if you brush your teeth too soon after eating (especially after eating something acidic), you could brush away enamel. This is because the acid in our food softens our enamel. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you brush your teeth to allow the enamel to re-harden. 

The last thing that could be happening is enamel wear from your own teeth. If you clench or grind your teeth, you are probably wearing away at enamel and causing sensitivity. Wearing a mouth guard, especially at night, can help with this. In other cases, you may have malocclusion, a misalignment in your teeth. This can cause teeth to rub together in the wrong way but can be easily fixed with an occlusal adjustment. 

If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, do not wait to schedule an appointment with your dentist. It could be a simple fix or a warning sign of something more serious. 

This newsletter/website is not intended to replace the services of a doctor. It does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information in this newsletter/website is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Please do not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating any condition.


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