The Signs And Symptoms Of Tooth Sensitivity
To get right to the point, tooth pain happens when the nerves in your teeth become irritated. Normally, our teeth are covered in a protective layer of enamel. On the inside, there is a layer of material called dentin and then the pulp at the core of the tooth which is filled with connective tissue, blood vessels and the nerve of the tooth. If enamel becomes too thin or there’s a breach exposing the dentin, the nerve is no longer protected. Tooth sensitivity is most commonly caused by any number of practices or conditions that erode or damage tooth enamel.
The many ways that tooth enamel can become damaged:
- Drinking or eating acidic foods and beverages– especially before bed.
- Skipping routine tooth care including flossing!
- Brushing aggressively or using a hard toothbrush.
- Attempting to use professional dental tools at home.
- Health issues (like bulimia or acid reflux) which expose teeth to stomach acid.
- Untreated gum disease and gum recession.
- Damaged, cracked or chipped teeth.
- Dental cavities (especially if left untreated).
- Using tobacco products, cannabis products or vaping.
- Grinding or clenching your teeth.
- Overuse of some teeth whitening products.
What can you do about sensitive teeth?The first and most important step to take after experiencing dental pain or discomfort is to see the dentist. We can rule out other possible underlying causes of your tooth pain and recommend treatments for any damage or decay detected during your appointment. With a formal diagnosis, you can feel confident that you’re moving in the right direction. Let’s break the whole process down:
Figure out the underlying cause
We won’t make any assumptions. During your examination, you will be asked to describe the sensitivity and how often it happens. You may require new Xrays and the dentist will closely examine your teeth and gums. Other diagnostic tests like the tap test or cold test may prove helpful in your diagnosis.
Treatment in the office
Teeth that are damaged or decayed can be treated with a number of restorative options from something as common as a filling to more complex procedures such as crowns. For worn down enamel, you may be able to treat it at home but there are also in-office treatments that may be available. We’ll discuss all of your options with you and you get the final say.
As you’ve seen, there are a lot of different potential causes of tooth sensitivity. Upon the completion of a dental exam, your dentist will be able to really narrow it down for you. We can give you tips and tricks tailored specifically to your needs that will continue to strengthen your enamel at home and prevent future tooth decay.
Contact us today
to schedule an initial consultation & exam.
Your consultation will include an examination of everything from your teeth, gums and soft tissues to the shape and condition of your bite. Generally, we want to see how your whole mouth looks and functions. Before we plan your treatment we want to know everything about the health and aesthetic of your smile, and, most importantly, what you want to achieve so we can help you get there.
Frequently Asked Questions
Replace your toothbrush and pick up one with soft bristles. Brush twice a day with desensitizing toothpaste and take care to gently clean along the gumline. Floss and rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash. Avoid acidic and sweet foods and drinks like coffee, soda, wine, and fruit juice especially before bed. If you catch yourself clenching or grinding your teeth, try practicing mindfulness or other relaxation techniques to give your jaw a break. To stop sensitive teeth pain for good, you will have to see the dentist so we can determine the underlying cause once and for all.
In some cases, improving your dental hygiene game at home can stop tooth sensitivity. When kept clean enough to prevent more erosion and decay, your enamel can actually heal. This process is helped tremendously with fluoride treatment. Fair warning though, dental pain is a natural indicator that something is wrong and it needs to be investigated. If your enamel has become so damaged or decayed that the dentin has become exposed you may be at risk of an infection or abscess.
Indirectly, stress can lead to tooth sensitivity. People who feel extra stressed out often neglect their routine oral care, indulge in sweet or acidic treats, or smoke more. Stress can also cause you to grind or clench your teeth. Sometimes people grind and clench while they’re asleep without even realizing it!
Acids wear down the enamel. Sweet and starchy foods feed the bacteria in your mouth which produces an acidic byproduct that wears down enamel. Hard foods can also wear away your enamel or risk damaging a tooth.
- Acidic foods: Coffee, wine and other alcohols, fruit juice and fruits (especially citrus!), soda pop, tomatoes, pickles and vinegar.
- Sweet foods: chocolate, jams and jellies, caramel, sugar, hard candies, ice cream and an extra special second mention for juice and soda!
- Simple starches: donuts, cake, bread, potato chips, crackers and cookies.
- Hard foods: chewing on ice, chewing hard candies, chewing foods that may contain a pit or hard kernel such as popcorn, cherries and olives.
- This doesn’t mean you need to avoid all these foods. Simply practice moderation and routinely clean your teeth, especially before bed.
Remember, you want low-acid, low-sugar drinks, snacks and meals. High fibre foods are excellent for your teeth and so is dairy because it promotes saliva production. Try to eat a nutritious, varied diet with plenty of protein and calcium. Here are some of the foods you can enjoy:
- Drinks: Water, green tea, black tea.
- Snacks: Raisins and nuts, celery and carrot sticks, apple slices. Cheese.
- Supper: Stir-fries, salads, wraps, meat and potatoes with a side of veggies.
- Dessert: Yogurt, ricotta and berries, apple sauce.