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What are the Causes of Tooth Sensitivity?

Going to the dentist or a doctor can be a frightening experience that provokes a lot of anxiety. Going in and seeing the lab coats, gowns, and smocks, hearing the sounds, and smelling the office can produce a lot of fear and worry in some patients. Whether the patient is a child or an adult, it is perfectly natural to feel anxiety about going to the dentist. Will I have a cavity? Will I need a root canal? Oh, this will be so painful! I don’t want anyone to look around in my mouth! These are all thoughts that might be racing through your mind during the time leading up to your dentist appointment. So, for this week’s blog, we will spend a little bit of time addressing dental anxiety and how you can, if not overcome it, at least make it more manageable.

From time to time, you might notice that one of your teeth feels a little sensitive while taking a sip of cold water, a spoonful of ice cream, or a breath of cold, fresh air. You try not to panic and hope that the sensitivity will just go away on its own–maybe you’ll brush your teeth a little more attentively. Tooth sensitivity causes can be diverse, and the reasons may mean very different treatment options. So, for this week, we will help shine some light on what might be an elusive issue: tooth sensitivity causes.

What is Tooth Sensitivity

Generally speaking, tooth sensitivity occurs when a tooth’s enamel becomes worn down, which might lead to nerves being exposed. However, the trouble lies in figuring out what is causing the enamel to become worn down. And as you will see, some of the causes for the enamel being worn down are easy fixes, while others require intervention from a dentist. Let’s look at what those specific causes might be.

1. Damaged or Cracked Tooth

One major cause of tooth sensitivity is having a damaged or cracked tooth. When there is some sort of damage to the tooth, nerve endings may be exposed, which are very sensitive to temperature changes - explaining why your cracked tooth is so sensitive. With a damaged or cracked tooth, you will need to see your dentist, and they will provide a proper course of treatment.

2. Eating Acidic Food and Beverages

Acidic food and beverages - red wine, coffee, soda, citrus fruits, pickles - will break down the enamel on your teeth. Now, it may be challenging to give up these foods and beverages - but you do not need to. Instead, here are a few tips to help you preserve your enamel while consuming acidic foods and beverages: sip water before, during, and after consuming the acidic food; wait until at least 30 minutes have passed after consuming the acidic food before you brush your teeth, as brushing your teeth too soon will scrub away the enamel. The enamel needs time to reform.

3. Whitening Toothpaste and At-Home Whitening Treatments

Everyone wants white teeth - and there is nothing wrong with that. You just need to be careful about how you get those pearly whites. If used too frequently, some whitening toothpaste and at-home whitening treatments will break down the enamel on your teeth and increase the tooth’s sensitivity. If you want whiter teeth but also want to have healthy teeth, talk to your dentist to see how you can achieve that balance.

4. Gum Disease

Another tooth sensitivity cause is gum disease. Gum disease is when the gums are swollen, red, painful, and often receding. As a result, the teeth get exposed, and the newly exposed teeth are now quite sensitive. Gum disease is usually the result of poor dental hygiene, so be sure to floss daily and brush at least twice a day. Visiting your dentist can help you stave off painful diseases like gum disease.

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