5 Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Even if you brush and floss daily and see your dentist twice a year, you may still end up with sensitive teeth. You know you have sensitive teeth when you feel sharp pain or discomfort when you eat or drink something cold or hot.

While you may think that sensitive teeth are no big deal, they’re actually an indicator that your teeth have been damaged. At Meadowbrook Dental Care in Mineola, New York, our expert dentists first evaluate your teeth to determine why they’re sensitive and then make recommendations for treatment to protect your teeth and keep you pain-free.

What causes sensitive teeth in the first place? Here are five common reasons:

1. You’re an overly enthusiastic tooth-brusher

If you brush too hard, too often (more than three times a day), or use a hard-bristled brush, you’re doing more than diligently brushing away bacteria-laden plaque and food particles. You’re actually brushing away your teeth’s protective enamel.

Once you erode the enamel, the sensitive roots of your teeth don’t have sufficient protection from potential stressors, such as acid and extreme temperatures. Unfortunately, after the enamel’s gone, it’s gone for good. Your Meadowbrook Dental Care dentist may recommend:

2.  You have a chip, crack, or cavity

If your teeth are sensitive, the pain may be coming from a microscopic hole in your enamel, called a cavity, that occurs when bacteria eat through your tooth. You may also have a small chip or crack that’s not visible but that is exposing the dentin, pulp, and nerves at the center of your tooth.

Your Meadowbrook Dental Care dentist first identifies any damage to your tooth. Recommended repairs may include:

Veneers, crowns, and inlays have the added advantage of strengthening your chipped, cracked, or damaged tooth.

3. You have gingivitis or periodontitis

Both tooth sensitivity and bleeding gums are a sign of a gum disease called gingivitis, which progresses to a gum infection known as periodontitis if not treated. If your gums are inflamed, tender, painful, or eroded, they can’t fully protect your teeth.

Your dentist needs to first clear the infection and resolve the gingivitis before treating your sensitive teeth. You may also need gum grafts or other periodontal treatments to restore your gums and teeth to health.

4. You consume too many acids or use too much mouthwash

Not only can certain foods and beverages stain your teeth, foods and drinks with high acid content can also eat through your enamel, causing tooth sensitivity. The alcohol in mouthwash gradually erodes your protective enamel, too, leading to sensitive teeth.

If you have an issue such as halitosis (bad breath) or dry mouth, your dentist may recommend an alcohol-free mouthwash.

5. You grind your teeth

Even if you’re not aware that you grind your teeth — a habit known as bruxism — you may be grinding in your sleep if you have sensitive teeth. During your biannual dental exam, your dentist checks for signs of bruxism, such as teeth that are uneven at the edges or molars that are smoother than they should be.

Grinding your teeth damages your enamel and can make your teeth susceptible to other types of damage, including cracks and chips. In addition to repairing any damage caused by bruxism, your dentist fits you with a mouthguard to prevent further grinding when you sleep.

Sensitive teeth are always a sign that your teeth or gums are not as healthy as they should be. Don’t delay treatment or wait until the pain worsens. Call us today or use the online form to set up a consultation.

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