Do you experience pain when brushing, eating, or drinking? Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem that affects over 40 million adults in the U.S. alone. While your tooth sensitivity may have a simple cause, it could be a sign of a more serious issue, like gum disease. If you are experiencing symptoms, it’s important to consult with your dentist.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the inner layer of your teeth, a substance called dentin, becomes exposed. Your gums provide protection for your teeth’ sensitive roots, which are not covered by enamel like the rest of the tooth. If your gums start to recede or your enamel wears down, sensations can reach your tooth’s nerve, causing sensitivity and pain. This pain is often sharp and lasts only a few seconds.
Tooth Sensitivity Causes
The most common causes of tooth sensitivity are:
● Brushing too hard, which can wear away enamel and cause receding gums.
● Gum recession resulting from gum disease.
● Cracked teeth, which can trap harmful bacteria and encourage plaque growth.
● Tooth grinding wears down enamel and exposes dentin.
● Excessive use of whitening products.
● Acidic or sugary foods.
How to Prevent or Reduce Tooth Sensitivity
The best way to prevent tooth sensitivity is to practice good oral hygiene by following a consistent daily brushing and flossing routine. You should also make an effort to visit your dentist every six months for a check-up and cleaning.
If you are already experiencing tooth sensitivity, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the sensation. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush will protect your irritated gums and prevent further recession. This can be combined with desensitizing toothpaste, which helps to reduce sensitivity over time.
It may also be helpful to watch your diet. Highly acidic and sugary foods can weaken enamel, leading to increased sensitivity to hot and cold food or drinks.
The Connection Between Tooth Sensitivity and Gum Disease
Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is a serious gum infection that damages the sensitive tissues supporting your teeth. Tooth sensitivity is a common symptom of gum disease and is often the first sign that something is wrong.
While mild gum disease can be treated with improvements to your dental hygiene routine, you may need additional treatment depending on how far the infection has progressed. Without proper treatment, gum disease can damage the supportive bones in your jaw. This may cause teeth to loosen or even need to be pulled.
Gum Disease Treatment
Gum disease treatment depends on the severity of the case. Non-surgical options include professional dental cleanings and root scaling procedures. These can help to remove stubborn plaque stuck under the gum line and reduce gum inflammation.
If necessary, surgical approaches involve bone or soft tissue grafts to repair areas damaged by the disease. If gum disease causes you to suffer from loose or missing teeth, a prosthodontist can help restore your smile with dental implants.
As an experienced prosthodontist with hundreds of happy patients, Dr. Hersh offers the most advanced forms of restorative treatments and tooth maintenance. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity or signs of gum disease, call Advanced Prosthodontics at (610) 865-4222 to schedule an appointment.