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Unravelling The Mystery: What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

Do you ever experience a sharp, shooting sensation when you sip your morning tea or coffee? Or wince in discomfort when you take a bite from your favourite ice cream? Sensitive teeth are a real pain — quite literally. You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered what causes sensitive teeth and how to prevent or treat it.

In this informative blog, we’ll discuss the causes of sensitive teeth and provide valuable advice from our dental professionals at No Gaps Dental so you no longer have to wonder, “Why are my teeth sensitive?”

Understanding sensitive teeth

To comprehend what causes sensitive teeth, you must first know a bit about tooth anatomy. Teeth comprise three layers:

  1. Enamel — The enamel is the outermost tooth layer that shields your tooth from physical, thermal or chemical forces that can cause harm to the underlying dental pulp.
  2. Dentin — The dentin, the layer beneath the enamel, contains tiny tubules leading to the tooth’s pulp.
  3. Pulp — The innermost part of the tooth houses nerves and blood vessels.

In a healthy tooth, the enamel protects the dentin and pulp, preventing direct contact with external forces. When this protective barrier is compromised, you will experience tooth sensitivity.

Sensitive teeth causes

Sensitive teeth can vary from a light twinge to more significant discomfort. This pain can fluctuate and worsen on certain occasions. If you’re asking yourself, “Why are my teeth sensitive all of a sudden?” it could be from:

  • Over-zealous brushing — Brushing too vigorously or too often or using a hard-bristle toothbrush can cause enamel loss or injure the gum tissue.
  • Tooth whitening — Overusing tooth whitening products or attending frequent dental whitening procedures can weaken the enamel and increase tooth sensitivity.
  • Acidic diet — Consuming a diet high in acidic foods and beverages, like sugary sports drinks and sodas, can erode the enamel over time, making teeth more sensitive.
  • Smoking — Tobacco use increases plaque build-up on teeth, increasing gum recession chances.
  • Cracked teeth — Cracked teeth can expose the dentin and pulp and cause tooth sensitivity. Cracked teeth can result from sustained tooth trauma, teeth grinding or biting on hard objects.
  • Tooth decay — Tooth decay or cavities can erode your tooth enamel, exposing the dentin layer. This exposure can cause tooth sensitivity as dentin is more susceptible to external factors.
  • Gum recession — Receding gums can reveal the dentin of the tooth’s root, making it more vulnerable to sensitivity. Various factors like gum disease, aggressive brushing or ageing cause gum recession.
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding) — Habitual teeth grinding can wear down the enamel, exposing the dentin. This causes tooth sensitivity and can lead to jaw pain, headaches and other dental issues, like more sustained damage to your teeth, requiring tooth restorative treatments.
  • Age — As we age, enamel naturally thins, making teeth more susceptible to sensitivity.

How to actively prevent and treat tooth sensitivity

Now that you know what causes sensitive teeth, let’s explore how to prevent and treat it.

Tips to prevent sensitive teeth:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene habits — Brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease — two leading sensitivity causes.
  • Use a soft toothbrush — Opt for a soft-bristle toothbrush and avoid vigorous brushing to prevent enamel wear and gum recession.
  • Limit acidic foods and drinks — Reduce your consumption of acidic foods and beverages and rinse your mouth with water to minimise enamel erosion.
  • Wear a mouthguard — If you grind your teeth at night, wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard can protect your enamel from any wear.
  • Regular dental check-ups — Visit our dentist in Sydney to keep on track with your regular check-ups and professional cleans. Our dentists will identify and address dental issues to keep long-term oral health issues at bay.

Treatments for tooth sensitivity

If you’re already suffering from sensitive teeth, rest assured there are plenty of treatment options available:

  • Use desensitising toothpaste — Special desensitising toothpaste contains compounds that prevent pain signals from reaching the nerve endings in your teeth. It can help alleviate sensitivity when used consistently. Sensodyne is a renowned toothpaste brand should you suffer from sensitive teeth.
  • Fluoride treatments — Our dentist may apply fluoride varnishes or gels to strengthen your enamel and reduce the pain that sensitive teeth causes.
  • Dental bonding — Dental bonding can be an effective solution for cases of exposed dentin. Our dentists will apply a tooth-coloured resin to cover and protect your exposed dental area.
  • Gum grafting — Only in severe gum recession will our dentists perform a gum grafting procedure to cover the exposed root and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal therapy — In cases where the causes of sensitive teeth are infection or damage to the pulp, a root canal procedure may be necessary to remove the damaged tissue and help alleviate pain.
  • Crowns or inlays — If a tooth is extensively damaged or has a large cavity, our team at No Gaps Dental may recommend a restorative dental procedure like a crown or inlay to protect and restore the tooth.

No Gaps Dental — your trusted partner in oral health

While over-the-counter products can help treat tooth sensitivity, we strongly urge you to consult with our dentists at No Gaps Dental for a proper diagnosis and tailored treatment plan. Our experienced dentists have years of experience and remain committed to providing personalised care and effective solutions to alleviate tooth sensitivity and improve oral health. We refuse to take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the needs of our patients — when you choose us, you can trust you’ll receive the care and attention you deserve. Read our blog to learn more about common forms of tooth sensitivity after a filling.

Schedule an appointment at your local No Gaps Dental clinic today, and our dentist will create a treatment plan to start your journey to healthy, pain-free teeth.

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