You’ve been ignoring the problem for a while. It all started with a slight twinge, however, the pain of your sensitive teeth has slowly become severe enough for you to consider booking an appointment with your dentist. But what actually causes tooth sensitivity?
Having super-sensitive teeth is a result of enamel damage that exposes the softer tissues of your teeth, and can be an early warning sign of more serious dental problems. Many people suffer from sensitive teeth – it is more common in people aged 20 to 40 years, but it can also affect teenagers and people over 70. A range of stimuli or ‘triggers’ can cause the pain and discomfort, and different people have different experiences with the type of pain, which can range in severity, duration and frequency.
Common Signs Of Sensitive Teeth
So let’s get to the root of the problem! What are the more common signs of sensitive teeth?
#1 Test Your Sensitivity to Cold – Ice Cream is a Great Choice!
Try sampling some ice cream first to see if the colder temperature results in any tooth sensitivity. If that’s OK, a great next step is biting down on something harder like an ice block – if your tooth pain is due to cold foods or drinks then you’ll soon know it!
Some people can also experience pain when brushing their teeth, particularly if they rinse with cold water, and others too when breathing in sharply through pursed lips – the pain could be due to the coldness of the air which can shoot through the microscopic tubes in the dentin (the soft layer of tissue below the enamel) in your teeth. Try experimenting with a range of these and if one or more of them cause dental pain, you’ve found your culprit!
#2 Sensitivity to Hot Temperatures is One of the Common Signs of Sensitive Teeth
Sensitivity to hot temperatures is often coupled with sensitivity to cold, and it’s usually caused by the same things – tooth decay, root exposure, reversible pulpitis or gum inflammation. In more severe cases, a tooth’s nerve may be dying.
Try drinking a hot drink like tea or coffee to test your teeth’s sensitivity. If you find that hot foods can sometimes cause your teeth to hurt then you know a visit to the dentist is definitely a must, because bacteria is most likely the cause. Hot foods cause pain because they heat the gasses that are produced by the bacteria in your teeth – the gasses expand and create pressure, thus causing the internal tooth pain.
#3 Sweeten Up Your Investigations with a Sip of a Sugary Drink
When you take a sip of a sweet or sugary beverage, the sugars in your drink contact the dentin and the result is a loss of fluid in your tooth, a pressure change and then possibly a sharp pain. Chocolate can also be a cause of hypersensitive teeth (no!) because it can melt between your teeth and stimulate the nerves inside the dentin.
Sugar also causes mouth sensitivity because of cavities. When bacterium attaches to your tooth enamel and causes decay, it can mix with the saliva in your mouth. Over time this nasty bacteria can contribute to tooth decay, which can then cause a cavity to develop. Sugar in a cavity can irritate the nerve and cause a great deal of tooth pain depending on the severity of the decay.
#4 Over Exposure To Acidic Foods Can Also Determine Whether You Have Overly-Sensitive Teeth
The excessive consumption of acid-rich foods and beverages can also put you at risk of tooth sensitivity because these foods gradually wear away your tooth enamel. The body’s pH levels generally prefer a more neutral state, and highly acidic foods can unbalance that state, resulting in a range of health problems including sensitive teeth.
Highly acidic foods should really only be enjoyed in moderation and some examples of these include sports drinks, orange juice, wine, fruits, tomatoes, soft drinks and some fermented foods.
#5 Pain Resulting From Gentle Teeth Tapping Can Also Be a Sign
Obviously, you need to be gentle with your teeth as a crack or a chip resulting from too much pressure will definitely mean a bigger dental bill! However, if you feel any amount of pain due to even the normally collision of your teeth, then you may be suffering from sensitive teeth. If tapping your teeth gently together results in the slightest twinge or even deeper nerve pain it’s possible that exposed dentin is the cause.
A similar type of pain may result if you have a wisdom tooth growing, which can generate force throughout the jawbone all the way up to your front teeth. Yeow!
#6 Sensitive Teeth Can Also Be The Result of Other Things
Dental problems like receding gums, cracked teeth, loose fillings, dental erosion and gum disease can also cause teeth to be overly sensitive, as can teeth grinding and brushing your teeth too hard. Exposing the dentin means your tooth enamel has essentially been worth away. Dentin is the link that connects your tooth sensitivity to temperature to the nerves inside your teeth, which in turn triggers pain.
So if you’re experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, they are ongoing and/or they have led you to make major changes in your lifestyle (such as avoiding your favourite foods), then it’s time to visit your dentist for a thorough examination. Yes, there are short-term methods for reducing the pain of sensitive teeth, like desensitizing toothpastes for example, however, it’s important to ensure you have no serious dental problems, and your professional dentist is the only person who is really qualified to help with that.
So why not speak to the experts at Australia Dental about the causes of your sensitive teeth today! Contact us on (07) 3888 9125 or (07) 3284 7112.