Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth are not just a discomfort- hypersensitivity can result in sharp, temporary pain associated with both hot and cold food and beverages, sensitivity when brushing, an unpleasant reaction to sweet or sour foods, or even a breeze of cold air. 

Developing sensitive teeth can happen to anyone- the erosion of tooth enamel or exposed roots are usually the cause of tooth sensitivity. However, there are various other factors that may play a role in the development of sensitivity:

Teeth Whitening

Many people turn to teeth whitening to remove discoloration and remove surface stains to improve the colour of their smile. However, over-bleaching and incorrectly using at-home kits can lead to irritation of the tooth nerve. Although bleaching sensitivity is usually temporary, it is always recommended to consult your dentist prior to utilizing at-home kits or inquire about the professional in-house ZOOM bleaching we offer.

Brushing Incorrectly

Aggressive brushing habits, using an abrasive toothpaste and/or using a toothbrush with hard bristles can degrade the enamel on teeth and result in the exposure of dentin. Brushing too hard can also result in gum recession and root exposure, accompanied by additional wear on the root surface. As a result, many dental professionals recommend the use of a soft or ultra soft-bristled toothbrush and a lighter brushing routine.

Teeth Clenching and Grinding

Teeth grinding, or “Bruxism”, is a common cause of sensitivity as the abrasion between teeth can wear down the enamel. Grinding your teeth can not only damage the enamel, it can also result in the chipping and cracking of teeth and promote TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders). If you find you have sore jaw muscles, are often stressed, or wake up with headaches- there is a good chance teeth grinding may be a cause of your sensitivity. Think you might be suffering from bruxism? At your next appointment, ask us about night guards!

Diet and Demineralization

Regularly consuming a highly acidic diet- one in which contains items such as tea, carbonated drinks, energy drinks, candies, salad dressings containing vinaigrettes, all citrus fruits and some vegetables can result in the erosion of tooth enamel. The acid contained in choices such as these decreases the mineral content in tooth enamel resulting in increased vulnerability to sensitivity and decay. As the body is not able to regenerate enamel, it is recommended to consume in moderation or avoid them if possible. If you do happen to indulge, it is recommended to drink water and wait up to an hour after consumption before brushing your teeth to reduce acidity.

Irregular Flossing Habits

By not flossing regularly and failing to keep a committed oral hygiene regime, you leave your teeth at risk. Plaque and tartar deposits begin to form leaving you susceptible to sensitivity, exposed roots, a receding gum line, decay, and even gum disease, or “Gingivitis”. If left untreated, tartar build up will cause further damage known as Periodontal disease.

Treating and Preventing Tooth Sensitivity

-Maintain good oral health by following proper brushing and flossing techniques twice a day using a soft-bristle toothbrush.

-Avoid or reduce an acidic diet.

-Book regular dental appointments at least every 6 months for professional cleanings.

Depending on each person’s individual circumstances, your treatment plan will be tailored to suit your needs- treatments can vary from simpler recommendations such as a change in diet, implementing a desensitizing toothpaste, fillings, or root canals in more severe cases. If you are experiencing any sensitivity or have any questions, please give us a call and book an appointment today.

Everything starts with proper care and by investing time to care for yourself and your teeth- with a committed regime, tooth sensitivity among other issues can be avoided!