Chances are, you suffer from tooth sensitivity. News Medical Life Sciences reports: “almost 50% percent of the population suffers from tooth sensitivity to cold, sweet, and hot foods and liquids, according to a nationwide survey of 1,056 adults age 18-65+.” This condition can significantly impede your ability to enjoy even your favorite foods and beverages. It can also affect your oral health. At our Houston dental practice, Dr. Craig Armstrong and our team often assist patients with tooth sensitivity. There are many products and therapies that claim to cure this condition, but in truth, you should seek qualified, professional assistance to remedy it. In the following blog, Dr. Armstrong and our team describe our tactics for properly treating sensitive teeth.
Symptoms of Sensitivity
You may suffer from this condition without ever realizing it. You could have sensitive teeth if:
· Hot, cold, gummy, acidic, or sweet foods or beverages cause your teeth to tingle or hurt. This discomfort could be sharp or dull, momentary or prolonged. It could occur with one tooth, several, or your entire mouth.
· You find yourself avoiding certain snacks or drinks you used to enjoy due to the above symptoms. You may also stop consuming these foods and beverages without understanding exactly why, simply that you no longer like them as much as you used to.
· You have difficulty brushing or flossing your teeth, or perhaps even swishing your mouth with water, due to the discomfort.
· You notice swelling, pockets, or abscesses in your gums. Periodontal disease often goes along with tooth sensitivity
If you experience any of the above, we recommend that you see Dr. Armstrong for assistance.
What Causes This Condition?
The American Dental Association describes: “a layer of enamel, the strongest substance in the body, protects the crowns of healthy teeth. A layer called cementum protects the tooth root under the gum line. Underneath the enamel and the cementum is dentin, a part of the tooth that is less dense.” The dentin is a more vulnerable layer of tissue—it “contains microscopic tubules (small hollow tubes or canals). When the dentin loses its protective covering, the tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to stimulate the nerves and cells inside the tooth.” This is the basic reason for tooth sensitivity, but, as you might have guessed, there are many reasons the enamel and cementum might weaken.
The most common culprits for tooth sensitivity include:
· Changes in the gum tissue. Infection can draw back your gums, lead your tissue to deteriorate, and create pockets around the teeth. As the Oral Health Foundation points out, gum recession can also occur without periodontal disease: “gums may naturally recede (shrink back), and the roots of the teeth will become exposed and can be more sensitive.”
· Oral health habits. Acidic food and drinks can wear down your enamel. Furthermore, a buildup of plaque can attract cavity-causing bacteria that eat at these protective layers, as well. However, another oral health issue you might not have suspected can also lead to tooth sensitivity. According to the Oral Health Foundation, “brushing too hard (‘toothbrush abrasion’) and brushing from side to side can cause enamel to be worn away…the freshly exposed dentin may then become sensitive.”
· Bruxism. “Clenching and grinding the teeth together…can cause the enamel of the teeth to be worn away,” as per the Oral Health Foundation. Unfortunately, many patients suffer from this condition.
· Improper tooth whitening. Using the wrong products or treatments to bleach your teeth can cause or worsen sensitivity. Fortunately, Dr. Armstrong and our team are here to help you whiten your smile safely with our professional, customized treatments.
These are just a few of the potential sources of tooth sensitivity.
Proper Treatment Protocols
In general, we recommend a few simple, at-home measures to alleviate symptoms of sensitivity. The American Dental Association suggests “desensitizing toothpaste…contains compounds that help block sensation traveling from the tooth surface to the nerve,” and, for more severe cases, certain “in-office treatments” such as “a fluoride gel or special desensitizing agents.” In addition, if cavities are the cause of your sensitivity, we may place a dental filling to restore the tooth. Advanced periodontal treatment may be required for tooth sensitivity caused by gum disease or recession. If you suffer from bruxism, Dr. Armstrong can fit you for a custom mouth guard to safeguard your enamel.
We will also educate you on proper oral hygiene habits, including a healthy diet and gentle brushing, at your next cleaning and examination appointment. In all cases, Dr. Armstrong will examine your smile, diagnose the cause of your condition, and create a customized treatment plan so you can eat and drink comfortably once again.
Do You Suffer From Sensitive Teeth?
Our Houston dental practice can help! Contact us today to find out more and schedule your next appointment with Dr. Armstrong.