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Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

More than half of the population is affected by tooth sensitivity. Cold, hot, acidic or sweet drinks and food can cause pain or sensitivity. In fact, sometimes just breathing in cold air can make you wince. Although the pain usually goes away fairly quickly, it may come and go.

Usually sensitive teeth occur when the tooth enamel gets thinner and exposes the dentin, which is filled with tiny nerve endings, or when the gums recede. Some of the items that can contribute to sensitive teeth include:

  • Using a hard toothbrush or brushing too aggressively causing enamel to wear away
  • Acidic foods and beverages such as coffee, citrus, carbonated beverages, and even yogurt, which can all erode enamel
  • Gum recession that exposes the root surface
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Teeth grinding, which can occur during sleep, may wear away tooth enamel

Sensitivity can also be signals of specific dental problems. A few of the common ones, along with their typical treatments are:

  • Tooth Decay – Acid-producing bacteria can dissolve tooth enamel. A dentist can remove the decay and restore the tooth. A crown may be required for stability and longevity.
  • Lost or broken fillings – Old fillings can loosen or break, allowing bacteria to enter and decay to occur. A replacement filling or crown would be needed.
  • Cracked tooth – A cracked tooth may not be visible to the naked eye. Depending on the severity of the crack a root canal could be required and then a crown placed, although cracks that extend below the gumline may require the tooth to be removed.
  • Abscess – This occurs when bacteria infects the nerve of the tooth. A root canal would generally be required to save the tooth. In severe cases the tooth may need to be removed.

To help prevent tooth sensitivity, brush gently with a non-abrasive toothpaste, and floss daily. Avoid acidic or sugary food and beverages, but when you do consume them, don’t brush your teeth immediately afterward, as acids soften tooth enamel. If you suspect that you grind your teeth at night, ask your dentist about a mouth guard that can be worn while you sleep to protect your teeth.

When you do have tooth sensitivity, it’s a good idea to see a dentist right away. Doing so can prevent small problems from progressing into more serious ones, such as the loss of a tooth. Early diagnosis with an examination and an x-ray can help to determine the appropriate treatment that’s needed.

If you are suffering from tooth sensitivity and would like to find out what may be causing it and how to treat it, Dr. Heidi Finkelstein at My Plantation Dental can help. To schedule your appointment for an examination, please contact us today at 954-584-1030.


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