Your teeth are made of the strongest substance in the human body. However, while they are certainly strong and hard on the outside, they also contain a nerve chamber on the inside that is soft and vulnerable. If the outer enamel layer of a tooth is compromised in any way, the nerves can be affected on the inside and significant pain can result. Most often, the discomfort is felt during hot and cold temperatures, such as drinking coffee or eating ice cream. Your sensitivity may be so extreme that even the cold air outside makes you wince in pain.

Regardless of the severity of your tooth sensitivity, it needs to be evaluated by a dental professional. While sensitivity may not always be cause for immediate alarm or treatment, it may be an indication of a more serious dental health issue.

Here are some common culprits to enamel damage, which leads to sensitive teeth:

Aggressive Brushing. When it comes to brushing your teeth, you don’t need to scrub. In fact, a soft-bristled tooth brush and gentle force is all that is required to remove plaque, food debris and sugars from your pearly whites.

Acidic Foods and Drinks. Not only can acidic foods and drinks cause enamel erosion, they can also enter the pathways of already exposed nerves and cause extreme discomfort. Beware of acidic fruits as well as sodas and energy drinks if you want to protect your tooth enamel and avoid sensitivity.

Bruxism. Teeth grinding (bruxism) is another surefire way to wear down your enamel, especially if you do it while you sleep on a regular basis. Remember that once the enamel wears thin, the dentin layer is exposed, which holds tiny hollow tubes that lead directly to your sensitive nerves.

Overuse of Certain Dental Products. Gradual teeth sensitivity can also develop after using certain teeth-whitening toothpastes or overusing mouthwashes that have a high alcohol content. Consider switching if you find yourself overly sensitive or reactive to these products.

Gum Disease. Periodontal disease causes the gums to recede and pull away from the tooth root. This can bring notable sensitivity to the newly exposed areas of your tooth. In such cases, treating your gum disease is the only way to relieve your discomfort.

Decay. When a tooth has a cavity, that means that there is a hole in the tooth where bacteria can invade and reach your tooth nerves. If you have tooth sensitivity from decay, it often means the cavity is in a more advanced stage. Decay can also occur around the edges of an old filling and cause discomfort.

Cracked or Fractured Tooth. You may also have a hairline crack in your tooth that is producing pain. Minor tooth damage may only be visible on an x-ray, but it can still be a source of serious sensitivity and pain.

Remember that tooth pain of any kind is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Never ignore sensitive teeth. While your dentist may evaluate you and send you home with a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth, it could be that you need gum disease therapy or a root canal to save your natural teeth from detrimental consequences.

Let us determine the cause of your sensitive teeth at West Hill Family Dental, where your smile and your comfort are our top priorities!