What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

24 August 2010

Almost everyone, young and old alike, have suffered to some degree from the pain of sensitive teeth. And, whether it is sensitivity to cold liquids, hot liquids, cold air, sugary food, it is always an annoying and worrying thing indeed. However, what causes teeth to be sensitive in the first place? Does it mean that there is something wrong with them?

Not necessarily. Regardless of what has caused this to happen, almost all incidences of sensitive teeth are due to the exposure of the dentin, with is is the soft layer of your teeth that is usually safely protected by enamel, and having areas of your teeth that do not have enough enamel is not necessarily a cause for extreme alarm, much of the time. It really depends on what has caused the enamel to wear away in the first place that is the biggest concern.

For instance, receding gums, the first stage of gum disease, can often cause sensitive teeth, due to the lack of enamel on the part of the tooth that used to be protected by the gum. Receding gums should always be monitored, and can be minimized by such simple actions as consistent brushing and staying away from acidic foods and drinks.

Speaking of acidic foods and drinks, another common culprit for causing teeth to be sensitive is the over-consumption of acidic drinks like coffee, tea and especially sodas, which are high in both sugar (which can irritate teeth and increase sensitivity) and acid. So, if you are trying to get to the root of your sensitive teeth problem, cutting down on these sorts of beverages would be a great place to start.

Believe it or not, another common cause of sensitive teeth is brushing too hard! I know; to many this can seem a somewhat counter-intuitive proposition, but the fact of the matter is that if you use too stiff of a brush, or brush with too much force (which some of us might do because we are attempting in vain to make up for not brushing frequently enough), you are actually wearing the protective coating of enamel off of your teeth, which can make them quite sensitive indeed. So, be sure to buy a toothbrush with soft bristles, and gently and thoroughly brush often (instead of trying to make up for skipped brushing sessions all at once!). Brushing regularly will also help avoid plague build up, which can lead to gum disease, and then; you got it, more sensitive teeth!

Also, having your teeth whitened will often make them extremely sensitive for a certain amount of time after the treatments. Be sure to use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth during those times. In fact, some dentists have recently started recommending that all of their patients always use this type of toothpaste since it is especially formulated to be gentle to your teeth’s enamel coating.

Other causes: overly acidic mouth washes (try to find one that doesn’t have alcohol in it), grinding your teeth (dentists make special mouth gaurds that can help with this one) and dehydration (you guessed it: make sure you drink enough water!).

So, in nut shell, there is a whole cornocopia of potential causes for sensitive teeth, some of them more serious than others. No matter what, don’t put off seeing your dentist and telling him or her about the problem. They are there to help you, and can usually quite easily pinpoint the cause of this annoying sort of discomfort. And, they even have special treatments that they can do that can often cut down your sensitivity right away whle you work on changing whatever habit you had that caused your teeth to become so sensitive in the first place.

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