Do you avoid coffee or ice cream due to sensitive teeth? While teeth sensitivity is a common dental problem, it shouldn’t be ignored. Not only can sensitive teeth sabotage your eating comfort, they can also be a warning sign of a more serious dental health issue.
Whether it is mild discomfort or wincing pain, teeth can become sensitive due to a variety of factors and circumstances. Dr. Kyle Stanley outlines the following causes for sensitive teeth, some of which may surprise you:
#1 Certain Types of Dental Work
Poorly performed dental work that has open margins and bad bonds can cause teeth to become sensitive. Anything that causes the inner tooth structure (dentin) to be exposed to the open environment can cause sensitivity.
#2 Dental Injury or Trauma
Mouth-related traumas, such as those from baseballs, elbows, and bike accidents, can also cause the pulp (nerve) of the tooth to die and become sensitive. These teeth can eventually abscess and require root canals or even extraction.
#3 Incorrect Teeth Bleaching Methods
Bleaching teeth can cause tooth sensitivity if done incorrectly. Many doctors try to use a very high concentration of bleach in order for the treatment to be very fast. The problem with this is that the tooth can be left damaged and very sensitive. The correct way to bleach by maximizing the effect and minimizing sensitivity is with the use of custom-made trays made by your dentist with a lower percentage of bleaching gel. Although it takes a week or so, it is worth the wait! As a side note, if you ever see the special light that dentists use in the office to bleach your teeth, those are simply a gimmick that dehydrates the teeth to make them appear brighter when you leave the office, but it doesn’t actually help keep your teeth white.
#4 Gum Disease
Gum disease usually doesn’t cause teeth to become sensitive, but it does cause gums to be sensitive. When someone has gum disease, they have calculus (calcified plaque) below the gumline and the body reacts with an inflammatory response. The gums become red and puffy and can bleed even when lightly touched. These patients need to see a dentist because gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss!
#5 Acidic Foods and Drinks
Acidic and sweet foods can cause tooth sensitivity by affecting the small pores in the teeth that communicate with the inside of the tooth. Acidic foods can also erode away enamel, which can never regrow. The most common acidic foods that our patients complain about are lemon juice, pasta sauce, wine, sour candies, and oranges.
#6 Teeth Grinding
Grinding your teeth can be detrimental to your oral health. Teeth grinding can cause fractures, jaw pain, root canals, and even tooth loss. When you grind your teeth, you generate a large amount of force on the teeth that can cause the teeth to become sensitive.
#7 Brushing Too Aggressively
Brushing your teeth with a hard toothbrush aggressively can cause gum recession and “ditching” at the gumline that exposes the root surfaces (which should never be exposed to the oral environment). The root surfaces are subject to erosion, decay, and fracture. Sensitive teeth can be your first warning sign that you are brushing too hard.
Other Surprising and “Non-Dental” Related Culprits To Sensitive Teeth
It is also possible that your sensitive teeth are coming from a condition or situation outside of your mouth. Some patients find that they have sensitive teeth when they suffer from a sinus infection. The roots of the teeth can extend into the upper sinus. When you get sick and the lining of the sinus becomes infected, the teeth can be sensitive in result.
Hormones can also play a role in how your mouth feels and reacts. Pregnancy and other periods of hormonal changes can produce inflammation and tenderness within the gums, making them feel more sensitive than normal.
Lastly, cold weather may be the reason why you don’t like to smile in a snow storm or open your mouth when running in the winter wind. Some people have teeth that are more sensitive to extreme temperatures than others. This is typically not a cause for alarm.
Are you suffering from sensitive teeth? Your smile should never be uncomfortable. We invite you to schedule an appointment with one of our esteemed Beverly Hills dentists so that we can evaluate the specific cause of your sensitivity and recommend a conservative, long-term solution.