DISCLOSURE: Noelle Copeland RDH is an Oral Care Specialist and Dental Consultant who provides content for Brilliant Oral Care and Baby Buddy.
Using desensitizing toothpaste isn’t always the answer for sensitive teeth. Knowing the cause of the sensitivity and addressing that first has a more significant impact. It may be that using the softest toothbrush for sensitive gums and teeth with some sensitive toothpaste is enough to cure the problem, but what if something else is going on? Even the best toothbrush for sensitive gums and teeth will fail to address the issue if infection, decay, or erosion are the culprits. Read below to learn how you can investigate some of the other causes of sensitive teeth.
Causes of Sensitivity
Poor Oral Hygiene
- Gingivitis can happen when a person has poor oral hygiene, and plaque begins to build on the teeth and along the gum line and starts to aggravate and inflame the gum tissue. This plaque buildup causes inflammation and redness, bleeding, and sensitivity. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can eventually progress into periodontal disease and cause irreversible damage to the supporting structures of the mouth.
- Decay is the primary cause of chronic tooth sensitivity. When a tooth has a cavity in it, this creates a hole, this hole continues to grow if left untreated, and as it grows, it gets closer and closer to the pulp/nerve of the tooth, creating sensitivity to temperatures and chewing. There are instances where people can have cavities and have no sensitivity or pain, and this is why it’s essential to see the dentist regularly.
- Erosion – Erosion typically happens due to implications from the diet. Unhealthy amounts of sugary foods and drinks have an eroding effect on the teeth by producing acids. The enamel can become pitted, and erosion can occur when these food items are consumed regularly, subsequently leading to the possibility of sensitive teeth.
- Fluorosis presents as specs and stains on the teeth discolored and possibly chalky looking with white and dark spots. These areas tend to be pitted, rough, and are more challenging to keep clean. This happens due to systemic ingestion of fluoride that damages the enamel of the teeth. Anytime the enamel of the tooth is damaged, it can cause sensitivity.
- Wear- Clenching and grinding the teeth causes undue wear. Your teeth are only supposed to touch when you are eating. So if you have the habit of grinding your teeth at night or during stressful times, you can rapidly wear the teeth down and cause sensitivity.
- Trauma-Any injury to the mouth where a tooth is broken, and tissue trauma occurs will cause sensitivity and pain. You would think that most people would know if they injured a tooth, but I have seen many people over the years who have a broken, sensitive tooth and had no idea that the tooth was broken and missing enamel.
- Infections- Sinus infections can cause pressure in the mouth, making teeth feel sensitive and achy; this occurs on the top teeth versus the bottom. Conditions like infected nerves or pulp inside the tooth also cause pain and sensitivity.
- Eruption- Teeth erupting probably seems like only something a baby goes through but think about your wisdom teeth erupting. It usually doesn’t happen until after the age of 18, and when it does, the teeth typically push into the teeth in front of them, causing pain and sensitivity.
Treatment for Sensitivity
Increase Oral Hygiene
Oral care should be the number one top priority on everyone’s list when dealing with sensitive teeth. This not only includes the oral care routine performed at home, but it also encompasses the professional oral care that’s regularly needed through professional dental services like cleanings, exams, and diagnostic x rays.
Professional oral care includes the following:
- At least two professional dental cleanings every year, more if disease or inflammation is present.
- Diagnostic x rays to evaluate normal and abnormal findings, including infections, decay, broken or fractured teeth, bone structure, the sinus cavity, the jaw joints, and head and neck anatomy.
- Application of oral therapeutics if prescribed.
- Comprehensive exams that include a detailed medical and dental history.
- Oral cancer screening.
- Dental restorations and treatment as prescribed.
In the absence of a fluorosis diagnosis, fluoride can be applied to teeth to help with sensitivity. This needs to be done professionally in a dental office, either by the dentist or a dental hygienist. This is called a fluoride varnish and is often done after a regular yearly professional cleaning appointment. Another option is xylitol-containing dental products like toothpaste, mouthwash, mouth gels, and even gums and mints that contain xylitol.
Dental professionals will often encourage patients to place molar sealants on the back chewing teeth, especially baby teeth but adult teeth that have deep pits can have them too, as these areas are more prone to cavities. A sealant is a flowable composite material that is cured into the pits and grooves of molar teeth. Sealing the pits and grooves keeps them airtight and sealed off from the ever-changing environment of the mouth, preventing sticky, gummy, and chewy foods from being retained in the spaces and decaying.
- Restorations- This includes fillings, crowns, root canals, sealants, and sometimes prosthetic appliances. A restoration is used to replace a part of the tooth that has become either decayed, broken, lost, or worn down due to some sort of oral trauma or disease.
Sensitive teeth happen sometimes, and most of the time, there is a cause and a treatment for it. If you are still unsure about your sensitive teeth, then schedule a visit to your dentist as soon as possible for a comprehensive evaluation.
If you were looking for better and healthier ways to establish an effective home care routine, you found the right place. If you want the best baby finger toothbrush, the best toothbrush for kids, adults, or that special someone in your life, look no further than Brilliant Oral Care. Our round head toothbrush not only removes the plaque on teeth, it simultaneously cleans and removes the plaque and bacteria found on the cheeks, gums, teeth, and tongue. It’s the softest toothbrush for sensitive teeth and gums. Don’t forget to #BRUSHBRILLIANT.
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