Maintaining dental health can give you a beautiful smile, but did you know that regular general dentistry visits can make them stronger as well? Over time, acidic or sugary foods can wear down the enamel on your teeth and weaken them, increasing the odds of breakage, cavities, and chips. If you have concerns about the…
General Dentist: FAQs About Sensitive Teeth
Tooth sensitivity is fairly prevalent among general dentistry patients. According to The Journal of the American Dental Association, approximately 12% of American adults have sensitive teeth. This does not include patients dealing with sensitivity from tooth decay, injuries, or recent dental work. While this issue is not debilitating for most patients, it can affect a person's quality of life. It should also be taken seriously because it may be a sign of a bigger dental problem.
Commonly asked questions about sensitive teeth
Understanding what causes tooth sensitivity and how to treat it can help patients enjoy some much-needed relief while improving their oral health. It is important to talk with a general dentistry professional about sudden or chronic tooth sensitivity because each patient is unique and may need a different treatment plan.
What is the underlying cause of sensitive teeth?
Tooth sensitivity is often described as a sharp twinge of pain that comes on suddenly, usually when eating or drinking. The feeling tends to subside rather quickly and is often isolated to a specific area. There are some patients who experience tooth sensitivity throughout the mouth with lingering effects. Ultimately, this is the result of exposed nerves within the tissues of a tooth.
A thin but tough layer of enamel coats each tooth to protect the deeper soft tissues from decay and damage. It also prevents the nerves from being exposed, which causes pain and sensitivity. When the enamel is worn down, that layer of protection can become damaged. There are many things that can lead to damaged enamel and exposed nerves, including:
- Acid erosion
- Aggressive brushing habits
- Genetic predisposition to enamel breakdown
- Gum recession
- Tooth decay
- Trauma or injury
Once the enamel is damaged or worn down, the body cannot repair it. It is important to take action to stop enamel erosion to help relieve tooth sensitivity and to prevent other serious issues.
What can make tooth sensitivity worse?
Most people experience sensitive teeth after eating or drinking something that is either very hot or very cold. Dentists often recommend consuming foods that are closer to body temperature to help avoid this issue. Eating acidic foods may trigger pain and can also lead to continued enamel breakdown. These foods should be limited or avoided altogether. Whitening treatments can also make tooth sensitivity worse.
What options exist to help improve tooth sensitivity?
For many people, brushing with desensitizing toothpaste and avoiding foods that are very hot or cold can help keep most symptoms under control. In addition, it can be helpful to utilize products and treatments that help to mineralize the teeth and strengthen enamel. Fluoride can be especially helpful in this type of situation.
Do sensitive teeth require general dentistry treatment?
A little sensitivity is normal from time to time, but chronic issues may be the cause of something deeper, such as tooth decay or infection. In these situations, the dentist will need to treat or repair the affected area before tooth sensitivity will improve.
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