What causes sensitive teeth?

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What causes sensitive teeth?

We all suffer from some sort of sensitive teeth issue at some point, usually caused by hot or cold foods, so we all know just how bad it feels.

But what about those who suffer from extreme tooth hypersensitivity?

Tooth hypersensitivity causes pain and discomfort, usually responding to hot and cold foods and drinks.

This problem can be temporary or chronic and occurs when the inner layer of the tooth becomes exposed, usually by enamel degradation or receding gums.

Enamel can be damaged by:

  • Brushing too intensely
  • Hard-bristled toothbrushes
  • Teeth grinding
  • Acidic and sugary foods and drinks
  • Reflux (acidic from stomach)
  • Gum recession
  • Broken and chipped teeth

Generally, the following listed above will cause some form of sensitive and tooth decay.

Symptoms of sensitive teeth

Tooth sensitivity causes pain, which can range from mild to extreme discomfort, depending on the cause.

Common triggers for sensitivity include:

  • Hot and cold foods and beverages
  • Sweet/acidic foods and drinks
  • Cold water
  • Alcohol
  • Brushing and flossing
  • Cold air
  • Chewing and biting down

Sensitive teeth are easily recognisable and it is advised to visit the dentist, especially if symptoms are prolonged or painful.

How will your dentist diagnose sensitive teeth?

During the appointment with your dentist, they will examine your teeth for potential issues, including cavities, gum disease, receding gums, loose fillings, and other issues which could be causing the sensitivity.

X-rays can be taken to see whether a cavity is the cause.

The dentist will clean your teeth and touch them to check for sensitivity, make sure you let your dentist know if you feel pain or discomfort.

How to treat tooth sensitivity

For mild cases of tooth sensitivity, it is usually treatable by simple at-home steps, such as the following:

  • Sensitive teeth toothpastes
  • Alcohol free mouthwashes
  • Brush gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush

For advanced cases, the dentist can:

  • Apply fluoride gel or desensitising agents to your teeth
  • Prescription toothpaste and mouthwash

If a medical condition is the cause of sensitivity, the dentist will provide appropriate solutions.

Can sensitive teeth be whitened?

One common question regarding sensitive teeth, is whether they can be whitened.

Yes, sensitive teeth can still be whitened, however speaking to your dentist first is very important.

The following are all appropriate options:

  • Professional teeth whitening: having your teeth whitened in the dental office is the most effective option, as the dentist can examine your progress and any issues.
  • Porcelain veneers: the best option for covering up severe stains and discolouration which cannot be treated by bleaching gels. Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain which are placed over your natural teeth. 
  • At-home whitening: the most cost-effective approach, however at-home tooth whitening can easily cause irritation to your gums and teeth.
  • Maintain your whitened teeth: it’s important to brush, rinse and floss to maintain your healthy, white teeth. We also recommend drinking from straws to prevent liquids from staining your teeth.

Does alcohol cause sensitive teeth?

Alcohol is a big cause of gum disease, tooth decay, mouth sores and heavy drinkers may have increased chances of developing oral cancer.

Alcohol generally dries the mouth out, causes increased acid levels, stains the teeth and other damage.

So, the answer to the question is yes, alcohol can cause sensitive teeth due to the above listed issues.

If you would like more information on sensitive teeth, our friendly staff at Crookes and Jenkins Dental, will happily answer your questions. At Crookes and Jenkins Dental we offer a wide range of services, from general check-ups and cleans, to more involved treatments. If you would like to book an appointment, please contact us here.

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