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Tooth Sensitivity and Treatments: An FAQ

January 18, 2022 by christopher pupillo
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Do you have sensitive teeth — or is the dental discomfort that you experience regularly another oral issue? If you have an odd or uncomfortable sensation in your mouth, take a look at what you need to know about tooth sensitivity, diagnosis, and available treatments.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

As the name implies, this dental issue causes sensitive teeth. But this doesn’t mean you will feel constant sensitivity or a persistent sense of pain. Instead, you may feel anything from mild discomfort to a sharp, stabbing pain temporarily or at specific times. Some people experience sensitivity pain that extends deep into the tooth.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

There isn’t one universal cause of dental sensitivity. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), possible causes of tooth sensitivity include cavities, fractured teeth, worn fillings, enamel erosion, exposed roots, or periodontal (gum) disease. Overuse of chemical mouthwash products and tooth whiteners can also cause sensitivity.

You may also experience this temporary discomfort if you brush too vigorously or brush forcefully with a hard-bristled brush often. The over-brushing action can wear away protective enamel or irritate the gums — and gradually increase tooth sensitivity in the affected area. Along with over-brushing or forceful brushing, you can wear away enamel and cause dental sensitivity if you grind your teeth or eat highly acidic foods.

Can a Dental Procedure Cause Tooth Sensitivity?

Did you recently have a root canal, get a crown, or have an extraction? If the dental work is done and the numbing agent has worn off completely, do you feel some tooth sensitivity? This type of temporary sensitivity is often a normal result or side effect of some types of dental procedures. But this doesn’t mean you should expect to feel pain that interferes with your normal daily activities or lingers.

If your teeth are more than just sensitive, you have other symptoms (such as swelling or an odd taste in your mouth), the discomfort is persistent, or you have any other post-procedure concerns, talk to your dentist. This type of post-procedure sensitivity may point to a potential problem that the dentist needs to address immediately.

When Could You Experience Tooth Sensitivity?

While you could have tooth sensitivity at almost any time, this type of dental discomfort may worsen when you eat or drink hot or cold items. You may also feel the sharp pains of sensitivity when you brush, floss, grind your teeth, or eat high-sugar foods.

What Should You Do If You Think You Have Sensitive Teeth?

You don’t have to suffer through sensitivity. If your teeth hurt every time you drink your morning cup of tea or you feel a sharp pain when you eat a Popsicle, schedule a dental office visit. The dentist will need to examine your teeth and gums before making a diagnosis. This means the dentist will need to diagnose the underlying cause, such as dental decay, enamel erosion, or other oral issue, before they can help you to reduce or eliminate tooth sensitivity.

What Treatments Are Available for Tooth Sensitivity?

The specific treatment the dentist recommends depends on the cause of your tooth sensitivity. If a cavity is the culprit behind the pain, the dentist will need to fill or restore the area. But if enamel erosion is the problem, the dentist may suggest tooth bonding, veneers, or a crown.

Other treatments for sensitivity include specialized desensitizing toothpaste products, a mouth guard (if tooth grinding is at fault), or changes in your dental care routine.

Does hot, cold, or anything else make you wince? Contact Accent Dental for more information on tooth sensitivity and the treatments for this common issue.