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Herrmann & Desio Family Dentistry
510 N. Washington St, Suite 301, Falls Church, VA 22046

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Understanding Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth are a common dental health problem. Many people report feeling stinging or discomfort when eating or drinking hot, cold, sour, or sweet items. This feeling may even be experienced when a person is breathing in cold air. Luckily, sensitive teeth and gums are relatively easy to treat.

Having sensitive teeth means that routine oral care activities such as brushing and flossing are painful. Knowing exactly what is causing your teeth to be sensitive is the first course of action when it comes to treating the issue. Once you know what is causing your sensitivity, you’ll be able to find an appropriate method of treatment that can assist in managing and reversing symptoms.

In most instances, tooth sensitivity is caused by the enamel of the teeth being worn away, exposing the tooth’s root. Cracked teeth and tooth decay are other issues that lead to tooth sensitivity. Other common causes are gum disease, aggressive brushing and receding gums. These problems all lead to the exposure of the sensitive nerves inside of your teeth, leading to pain whenever extreme sensations come into contact with the exposed areas.

The most effective method of treatment for your tooth and gum sensitivity will depend on what is causing it. Sensitivity caused by dentin and nerves being exposed can be treated via the use of desensitizing toothpastes and fluoride supplements. Sensitivity being caused by receding gums is often treated via the use of dentin bonding agents. Sealants can create a blockade that keeps irritants from reaching the area. In cases where none of the above treatment methods works, your dentist may prescribe a root canal.

The Causes of Sensitive Teeth

  1. Brushing your teeth too hard or utilizing a toothbrush with hard bristles wears down the tooth’s enamel and leads to tooth sensitivity. To avoid this issue, use gentle brushing motions and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  2. Foods and beverages that are acidic increase tooth sensitivity. Stay away from pickles, tomatoes, citrus fruits and other acidic items.
  3. Grinding your teeth throughout the night can also contribute to sensitive teeth. This is because the action of grinding wears down the enamel of the teeth and eventually exposes dentin and nerve tissue. A custom-fitted night guard could help treat this issue.
  4. Products such as toothpaste and mouthwash sometimes contain tooth-whitening ingredients that can also cause sensitivity. Switch brands if you believe this to be contributing to your sensitive teeth and gums.
  5. Some mouthwashes contain alcohol and other ingredients that can lead to sensitivity. Use a neutral rinse or choose not to use mouthwash.
  6. Gum disease can lead to receding gums. This exposes sensitive areas of the teeth and causes sensitivity. Your dentist can help to address this issue by using a sealant while treating your inflamed gums.
  7. Certain dental procedures can lead to temporary tooth sensitivity. These procedures include fillings, extractions and root canals. If your sensitivity does not go away, talk to your dentist.
  8. Cracked and chipped teeth can also cause sensitivity. See your dentist as soon as you can to prevent severe pain from occurring.
  9. Old tooth fillings can crack and leak, leading to decay spreading throughout the tooth. In most instances, simply replacing the old filling will address the issue.

There are times when tooth sensitivity is indicative of a serious underlying issue. This is why you should see a dental health professional if you have sensitive teeth. Special toothpastes and fluoride supplements are often prescribed to help strengthen the enamel and eliminate discomfort.

How to Help Sensitive Teeth and Gums

  • Schedule routine visits to your dentist in Falls Church to keep your oral health in good shape.
  • Stay consistent with your oral hygiene routine.
  • Brush the teeth and gums with a gentle brushing motion. Be sure to use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
  • Use toothpaste that has been made specifically for sensitive teeth.
  • Try mouthwash containing fluoride.
  • Wear a mouth guard when sleeping to prevent tooth grinding.
  • Stay away from acidic foods such as oranges, tomatoes and lemons.

Knowing how to address your sensitive teeth is important. If you’ve been grinding your teeth at night, you should visit your family dentist to see if he or she thinks that a mouth guard would be a useful way to keep your teeth from fracturing and developing sensitivity.

Staying away from wine, carbonated beverages and acidic fruits can help you prevent sensitivity from occurring. This is because all of these items erode the tooth’s enamel. Drinking water or milk soon after consuming these items can neutralize their impact, however you should be careful not to brush your teeth too soon after consuming those items, as that can lead to more erosion.

Tips for Eliminating Sensitivity

While receiving advice from your dentist is always the best option, here are some dental care tips that can help you with tooth and gum sensitivity:

  1. Discover Desensitizing Toothpaste – These specially formulated toothpastes can assist in keeping sensitivity from hitting the nerves of your tooth. They usually begin to take effect within a few applications.
  2. Ask About Fluoride – Placing fluoride on sensitive parts of your teeth can aid in strengthening the enamel so that sensitivity doesn’t set in.
  3. Find the Remedy at the Roots – If you have receding gums and are experiencing tooth sensitivity because of it, your dentist can perform a gum graft to get rid of your sensitivity.

While having sensitive teeth and gums is uncomfortable, it is treatable. The problem is also entirely preventable. Keeping this problem from occurring is as simple as practicing good oral health care. Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day and using a soft-bristled toothbrush are some of the best things to do in order to prevent sensitivity. You should also see your dentist on a consistent basis.

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