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Tooth Sensitivity: Symptoms & How To Manage Them

Tooth sensitivity causes a unique, irritating sensation. Have you ever bitten into your morning apple and followed that up with a sip of hot coffee and felt that ugly bolt of pain? It feels like hitting your funny bone, but worse.

If this happens frequently, you’re probably wondering if your symptoms will ever improve and trying to figure out how to prevent them from getting worse! Read on; we’ll go over the tooth sensitivity basics as well as some simple home treatment methods.

The why

There are a few distinct reasons for tooth sensitivity. The most common causes are plaque build-up caused by poor dental hygiene and the natural erosion of tooth enamel over time. Enamel erosion is often caused by consuming acidic foods, wines, coffee, and tea.

Bruxism, or grinding the jaw, can be a silent culprit as well.

Cavities, recessed gums, and exposed tooth roots can also be responsible, and will likely cause more localized pain. Conditions like periodontal disease are also culprits and require immediate treatment.

Other underlying factors such as genetics and gastrointestinal issues can play a large role in tooth sensitivity. Oral hygiene is doubly important for individuals who have naturally thin enamel or who suffer from conditions like acid reflux or chronic illnesses that involve frequent vomiting.

Only a dentist can ascertain the exact cause of your tooth sensitivity. If you’re uncertain or if it’s been a significant amount of time since your last exam you should make an appointment as soon as you’re able.

If you happen to reside in the Victoria, BC area, check out the professionals at Cedar Tree Dental and Westphal Dental. They offer a complimentary meet and greet that includes a tour of their new office.

The symptoms

Symptoms of tooth sensitivity are usually unmistakable and can often come and go without a discernible reason.

The primary symptom is a sudden pain ranging from a dull throb to a sharp sting. This can affect all teeth, a portion of them (bruxism often results in molar sensitivity), or just one.

Triggers include:

  • Cold or hot hair
  • Cold or hot beverages
  • Acidic food or beverages, particularly alcohol
  • Aggressive tooth brushing and flossing

The treatments

Importantly, if enamel erosion is the cause of tooth sensitivity, it’s not something that can regenerate. Enamel is unique in the sense that while it is a tissue, it’s not living tissue. The enamel gone is enamel lost.

Overall, treatment for tooth sensitivity depends on the cause, but we’ve listed some remedies you can employ to take the sting out of things:

#1. Toothpaste: while we mention enamel cannot regenerate itself, proper toothpaste for sensitive teeth contains higher amounts of fluoride. Fluoride helps in bringing important minerals like calcium and phosphates back into the teeth (while acid pushes them away). Choosing fluoride toothpaste in tandem with daily use can strengthen existing enamel.

These toothpastes also may contain a small amount of desensitizing agents to assist with pain as well as work to provide a barrier of sorts between the affected teeth and any triggers.

#2. Flossing: It might seem like a no-brainer, but flossing is one of the best things you can do for sensitive teeth. Flossing is one of the primary defenses against plaque build-up, and plaque of course is one of the biggest common causes of tooth sensitivity.

#3. Soft brushes: Reducing the amount of pressure you apply when brushing your teeth as well as purchasing a soft-bristle toothbrush will also help with tooth sensitivity.

#4. Avoiding triggers: It’s hard to avoid a cold winter’s day but making some lifestyle changes such as avoiding very hot or very cold beverages and food will certainly prevent sensitivity from getting worse. Treating underlying issues such as antacids for acid reflux or purchasing a mouth guard for bruxism are excellent preventative measures as well.

The conclusion

Tooth sensitivity is a condition that affects an estimate of half of the global population. As long as you see your dentist regularly, avoid personal triggers, and practice meticulous dental hygiene, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t see a decrease in symptoms.

If your symptoms do not improve or worsen, contact your dentist for an exam as soon as possible. They will be able to recommend further treatment specific to your needs.

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