What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth may be simply a bother, or they could impact your life severely. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, surveys show 1 out of 8 adults in Washington, Utah, Oregon, Idaho and Montana reported sensitive teeth. Once the data was analyzed, it found younger adults and women were more likely to report sensitive teeth.

Since teeth harden over time, young adults are more likely to report tooth sensitivity than those over 44. Based on the study, women were 1.8 times more likely to experience sensitive teeth, but that may be caused by women’s honesty when reporting pain rather than a physical difference between them and men.

If you struggle with sensitive teeth, the reasons behind it may vary. On the positive side, sensitive teeth are usually treatable, whether through over-the-counter toothpaste products to lessen sensitivity or through more extreme measures such as a gum graft or root canal. Following are some reasons your teeth might be sensitive.

  • Your Enamel is Worn
    Enamel protects the crown of each tooth, and cementum protects the tooth’s surface that lies below the gum line. Beneath these two protective coatings is dentin, which contains small tubes and connecting pathways. If the enamel or cementum is worn, pressure and temperature can reach the dentin and wreak havoc on the tooth’s nerves. Tooth enamel can wear over time if you brush your teeth roughly in a side-to-side motion. If you do not brush your teeth on a regular basis, plaque buildup can cause acid to eat away at the tooth enamel as well. Finally, consuming a large amount of acidic food and drink such as coffee and citrus fruits and juices can break down protective enamel.
  • Your Teeth React to Chemicals
    Some tooth-whitening chemicals can cause an increased sensitivity. Whitening toothpaste or whitening strips can instigate tooth pain. Some mouth rinses may be the cause of sensitivity as well.
  • A Tooth is Cracked
    If a tooth is cracked, air may hit exposed nerves, causing pain when you simply draw a breath. It’s important to see a dentist right away for cracked tooth repair, otherwise it may progress to a dangerous infection requiring more serious treatment.
  • You Develop Gum Disease
    Periodontitis is another common cause of tooth sensitivity, since the gum line gradually recedes as the disease progresses. Dentists will treat the gum disease while offering you a fluoride seal for exposed tooth roots to protect against painful sensitivity.
  • Your Fillings Begin to Decay
    If your fillings are many years old, they may begin to crack and show signs of decay around the edges. Bacteria can make its way into the inner tooth and you may feel pain when biting down or when the filling comes into contact with hot or cold foods.

No matter what the cause, an experienced dentist can diagnose the reason for sensitive teeth and offer you fast, affordable solutions to relieve your pain. Contact the team at Oak Hills Dentistry today for a consultation if you need treatment for sensitive teeth.