Have you ever felt pain or discomfort after a bite of ice cream or a spoonful of hot soup? If so, you’re not alone. Teeth sensitivity usually occurs when the underlying layer of the teeth, the dentin, becomes exposed. However, sensitive teeth are typically the result of worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots.
What are the symptoms of tooth sensitivity?
People with sensitive teeth may experience pain or discomfort due to specific triggers. The pain is felt at the roots of the affected teeth. The most common triggers include:
- Cold air
- Hot foods and beverages
- Cold foods and beverages
- Sweet foods and beverages
- Acidic foods and beverages
- Cold water, especially during routine dental cleanings
- Brushing or flossing teeth
- Alcohol-based mouth rinses
What causes teeth sensitivity?
Many factors can lead to the development of sensitive teeth, including:
- Brushing too hard. Over time, brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear down enamel and cause the dentin to be exposed. It can also cause gum recession (when your gum tissue pulls away from your teeth).
- Gum recession. Some people are genetically prone to thin gum tissue. Other people develop gum recession because of periodontal disease. With gum recession, the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth, exposing the roots.
- Gum disease. Inflamed and sore gum tissue may cause sensitivity because of the loss of supporting ligaments, which exposes the root surface that leads directly to the tooth’s nerve.
- Cracked teeth. Chipped or broken teeth may fill with bacteria from plaque and enter the pulp, causing inflammation.
- Teeth grinding. Grinding or clenching your teeth may wear down the enamel and expose underlying dentin.
- Teeth whitening products. These products are significant contributors to teeth sensitivity.
- Teeth sensitivity is highest between the ages of 25 and 30.
- Plaque buildup. Plaque on the root surfaces can cause sensitivity.
- Mouthwash use. Some over-the-counter mouthwashes contain acids that can worsen teeth sensitivity if you have exposed dentin (the tooth’s middle layer). The acids further damage the dentin layer of the tooth.
- Acidic foods. Regularly consuming foods with a high acid content, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, and tea, can cause enamel erosion.
- Recent dental procedures. People can get sensitive teeth after fillings, teeth cleanings, and dental restoration placement. Sensitivity caused by dental procedures is temporary and usually disappears in four to six weeks.
To prevent sensitive teeth from recurring, brush your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.
How to prevent tooth-sensitive teeth in winter?
- Use desensitizing toothpaste. After several applications, desensitizing toothpaste can sometimes help block pain associated with sensitive teeth.
- Maintain good oral hygiene. Follow proper brushing and flossing techniques to clean all parts of the teeth and mouth thoroughly.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. This will result in less toothbrush abrasion to the tooth surface and less irritation to your gums.
- Watch what you eat. Frequent consumption of highly acidic foods can gradually dissolve tooth enamel and lead to dentin exposure. They may also aggravate the sensitivity and start the pain reaction.
- Use fluoridated dental products. Daily use of a fluoridated mouth can decrease sensitivity.
When to consult for teeth sensitivity?
Schedule an appointment with your dentist if you have teeth sensitive to cold, heat, or sweets.