Why are my teeth so sensitive?

sensitive teeth
Ice cream make you scream? If you’ve got sensitive teeth, you know how quickly enjoying hot, cold, or sweet treats can go from a fun treat to a painful experience! Luckily for you, there’s a lot you can do to make your teeth less sensitive that don’t involve giving up your favorite treats.

What makes teeth sensitive? 
Tooth sensitivity, also known as dentin hypersensitivity, is a common problem in people of all ages, though it occurs more commonly as we grow older.

Sometimes, a cavity is the source of the sensitivity, as the “hole” from the cavity puts the nerves of the tooth closer to the tooth surface, making it easier for hot, cold or sweet or acidic foods to irritate the nerve.

Most people with sensitive teeth do not have cavities. Instead, their tooth sensitivity is caused by thin or damaged tooth enamel that allows irritants like hot and cold temperatures and sweet or acidic foods to come closer to the nerve and cause pain.

Damaged tooth enamel leads to tooth sensitivity 
Some people are born with thinner tooth enamel that leads to sensitive teeth. For other people, their enamel can be damaged by medical conditions, lifestyle, and brushing habits. Some things that can damage the tooth enamel include:

  • Brushing too hard
  • Brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Grinding and clenching of teeth, which can cause hairline fractures in the enamel
  • Excessively drinking or eating acidic foods and beverages
  • Acid reflex
  • Bulimia and other conditions that result in frequent vomiting
  • Gum recession

Common triggers for pain in sensitive teeth 
Having sensitive teeth can negatively affect your day-to-day life. Eating, drinking and brushing can cause terrible tooth pain. Going to the dentist can be a nerve-wracking experience when you have sensitive teeth! Not everyone with sensitive teeth will be sensitive to all of the triggers listed below.

  • Hot
  • Cold
  • Sweet drinks/food
  • Acidic drinks/food

Treatments for sensitive teeth 
Sensitivity toothpaste – For mild cases of tooth sensitivity, sensitivity toothpastes can make a huge difference. Sensitivity toothpastes have active ingredients that work to block the nerve endings from sending pain signals to the brain. The effect of sensitivity toothpastes builds over time, so it’s important to use a sensitivity toothpaste every time you brush. If the OTC sensitivity toothpaste doesn’t help, we can prescribe a prescription-strength sensitivity toothpaste for more dramatic results.

In-office fluoride treatments – Prescription strength fluoride treatments can help restore your tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity.

In-office sensitivity treatments – Prescription grade anti-sensitivity gel can reduce or eliminate tooth sensitivity.

Other things you can do to help your sensitive teeth 
Brush softly – It doesn’t take a lot of pressure to properly clean your teeth. Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently.

Choose non-alcohol mouthwash – Alcohol-free mouthwash still does a great job and won’t irritate sensitive teeth.

Get an appliance to prevent tooth grinding and clenching – An appliance can help to prevent clenching and grinding and reduce the damaging pressure put on your teeth by clenching and grinding.

Need help with your sensitive teeth? 
There’s no need to struggle with sensitive teeth when you don’t have to! Schedule your appointment today, and we’ll find a sensitivity treatment that’s right for you.