What Causes Tooth Sensitivity? 

There’s nothing more disconcerting than tooth pain or discomfort when enjoying your favourite food and drinks. Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common dental issues, affecting millions of people worldwide. Whether you experience sensitivity when eating/drinking, stepping outside into the cool air, or whilst brushing, it is never a pleasant experience. Whilst occasional sensitivity may not be a cause for concern, persistent or severe sensitivity could indicate underlying dental problems that require attention. In this blog post, Glowing Smiles Dental will be delving into the causes of tooth sensitivity and sharing some effective solutions to alleviate discomfort and promote good oral health.   

Understanding Tooth Sensitivity 

Tooth sensitivity is also known as dentin hypersensitivity, and it occurs when the underlying dentin layer of the tooth becomes exposed. As dentin is porous and contains microscopic tubules that connect to the nerve endings in the pulp, various stimuli such as exposure to heat, cold, sugar or acids can trigger pain or discomfort when they reach the nerves.  

Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity 

There are various factors which can contribute to the development of tooth sensitivity: 

  • Enamel Erosion: Over time, tooth enamel is worn down by the consumption of acidic foods and beverages, aggressive brushing and acid reflux. This leads to exposure of the underlying dentin and can increase sensitivity.  
  • Gum Recession: Receding gums expose the sensitive root surfaces of the teeth, which lack the protective enamel layer found on the crown. Gum recession can result from periodontal disease, brushing too had or the natural aging process. 
  • Dental Cavities: Cavities or tooth decay can lead to sensitivity when they progress to affect the deeper layers of the tooth, reaching the nerve endings.  
  • Dental Procedures: Some dental treatments such as teeth whitening, fillings or crown placement may cause temporary sensitivity as a side effect.  
  • Grinding or Clenching: Habitual grinding or clenching of teeth (bruxism) can wear down enamel and lead to sensitivity. 

Effective Solutions for Tooth Sensitivity 

Fortunately, there are several strategies and treatments available to help manage and alleviate tooth sensitivity: 

Specially Formulated Toothpaste: There are a number of toothpastes on the market specifically designed for people with sensitive teeth. In addition to fluoride, these toothpastes usually contain potassium nitrate to help block the transmission of sensations from the tooth surface to the nerve, reducing sensitivity over time with regular use. 

Fluoride Treatment: Visiting your dentist for an in-chair fluoride treatment or prescription fluoride gels can help to strengthen tooth enamel and decrease sensitivity.  

Dental Bonding or Sealants: Applying dental bonding or sealants to exposed root surfaces or areas of enamel erosion can provide a protective barrier and reduce sensitivity. 

Gum Grafting: For cases of severe gum recession, gum grafting surgery may be necessary to cover exposed root surfaces and reduce sensitivity.  

Adjusting Oral Care Routine: Using a soft-bristle toothbrush and adopting gentle brushing techniques can help prevent further enamel erosion and gum recession. Additionally, avoiding acidic foods and beverages can minimise enamel erosion and sensitivity.   

Experiencing Sensitivity? Glowing Smiles Dental Can Help 

If tooth sensitivity persists or worsens despite your best efforts, it is essential to seek professional dental care. A dentist can perform a thorough examination to determine the underlying cause of sensitivity and recommend appropriate treatment options. Delaying treatment could lead to further complications and compromise dental health.  

Tooth sensitivity is a common condition which can adversely impact quality of life, but there are ways to manage sensitivity and alleviate discomfort. If you’ve been experiencing persistent sensitivity, please don’t hesitate to book an appointment at Glowing Smiles Dental today.