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Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Posted in Dental Care, and General Dentistry

Pain from sensitive teeth can happen to anyone, at any stage in life. It’s a flash of intense pain when teeth are exposed to hot or cold air or liquid, even sweet or acidic foods can set it off. Some people feel this pain when brushing or flossing. One thing for sure, when happens it feels like something is drastically wrong with your teeth. So, what causes our teeth to become sensitive and give us pain and grief?

In healthy teeth, enamel protects the underlying layer of dentin, which is softer than enamel. Our tooth roots are protected by our gums. If our enamel is worn down or if you have a receded gum line, then the dentin becomes exposed. That exposure is the root cause of your pain, because nerves are connected to the dentin. Cavities, cracked teeth, gum recession, enamel and root erosion all can cause dentin to be exposed.

According to Dr. Stephen Mathews (Erbsville Dental Waterloo) some factors that contribute to sensitive teeth may include:

  • Brushing too hard or using a toothbrush with hard-bristles. This wears down enamel and can cause dentin exposure and can speed up gum recession.
  • Gum recession from periodontal disease exposes dentin.
  • Inflamed and sore gum tissue or gingivitis can expose tooth roots.
  • Cracked teeth can breed bacteria from plaque and cause inflammation in the tooth pulp.
  • Teeth grinding or clenching can wear down enamel.
  • Plaque buildup.
  • Long-term use of acidic mouthwash can make existing tooth sensitivity worse and damage the dentin layer more.
  • Teeth may be sensitive for a few weeks after a professional cleaning and other common dental procedures.
  • Some whitening treatments contain harsh chemicals that can wear down enamel and cause sensitivity.

What about tooth sensitivity after filling?

Some patients experience tooth sensitivity after getting a filling. This can be due to the procedure itself. If the feeling gradually improves then you need not worry, but persistent tooth sensitivity may indicate that a root canal is needed. Another common issue after a filling is sensitivity when biting down on the filling area. If you experience this, you may need a simple bite adjustment (i.e. the filling may be too high and need to be lowered).

Talk to Dr. Mathews about what might be causing your tooth sensitivity. It might be a simple fix. Don’t suffer needlessly.