It might strike when you've taken a sip of ice-cold water on a hot day, or when you swallow your first mouthful of morning coffee: that sharp, electric pain that starts at the centre of your tooth that causes you to wince in discomfort. If this happens to you when you drink something hot or cold, bite down on something that is even slightly crisp, or suck on something sugary, you probably have tooth sensitivity.
This annoying, painful condition has many root causes. Fortunately, it can have just as many cures. Read on to learn more about how your tooth sensitivity may have developed and what you can do to stop the pain.What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Here's a list of 10 of the most common behaviours or conditions that cause tooth sensitivity. When in doubt, it's always best to visit your dentist.1. Brushing too hard
Contrary to common belief, brushing harder doesn't remove plaque from your teeth more effectively. In fact, it can damage your teeth by pushing your gums back, which can lead to gingivitis and root exposure. Brushing harder or with firmer bristles can also wear down the enamel on your teeth, which means your dental nerves are closer to the surface and more likely to experience pain.2. Acidic foods and drinks
Oranges and tomatoes are great for your body, but not so great for your teeth: they contain acids that can leach away at your teeth's protective coverings.3. Tooth grinding
You might be aware that you grind your teeth when you're frustrated, anxious, or bored. Alternatively, you could be grinding your teeth at night unknowingly. Tooth grinding wears down your teeth, moving the nerves closer to the surface and causing more pain.4. Tooth whitening
Whitening your teeth can be good for your smile, but some people are also more sensitive to bleach than others. Even using tooth-whitening toothpaste can cause discomfort and pain if your teeth are bleach-sensitive.5. Mouthwash
Similarly, some people can be more sensitive to the chemicals in mouthwash than others. If you're using mouthwash every time you brush your teeth or after every meal, it might be the culprit.6. Gum disease
Gingivitis, or its more dangerous relative, periodontitis, can both contribute to tooth sensitivity by pulling the gum away and exposing your teeth's roots.7. Poor oral hygiene
Whether you've had a basic cleaning or something more complex, like root canal therapy or crown placement, your teeth will likely be a little sensitive for a few days. This should clear up soon. However, if your sensitivity doesn't go away, you should go back to the dentist and make sure your new crown or cap doesn't have an infection.9. Cracked teeth
A cracked or chipped tooth exposes your tooth to pain. If you have a cracked or chipped tooth, it's important to visit your dentist immediately. Any sensitivity will worsen unless you treat the tooth as soon as you can.10. Fillings
The longer you have a filling, the more the filling weakens, which lets bacteria build up and destroy your enamel.How Can I Treat Tooth Sensitivity?
Start with the basics-if you aren't already brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least every day, start doing so now. If you haven't visited the dentist for longer than six months, it's probably time to schedule a cleaning appointment too.
Here are a few other simple fixes for tooth sensitivity:
- Replace your toothbrush. If you're using a brush with hard bristles, change to a toothbrush with soft bristles, and brush more gently.
- Change toothpastes. Many toothpaste brands offer tooth sensitivity toothpastes. If you're worried that you're sensitive to bleach, choose one without any tooth whitening.
- Rinse with fluoride. Fluoride protects your teeth from decay. You can purchase a fluoride rinse over the counter, but if that isn't strong enough and your teeth still ache constantly, consider a trip to the dentist for a stronger one.
- Avoid habits like smoking and chewing tobacco. Both cigarettes and tobacco can cause mouth cancer, and chewing tobacco actually causes your gums to recede, leaving your teeth susceptible to pain
- Get a mouth guard. Visit your dentist to find out if you grind your teeth at night. He or she can create a mouth guard customized to your mouth that will prevent your teeth from grinding together and stop the wear and tear. If you are conscious of your tooth grinding habit, do whatever you can to stop it.
- Cover your roots. Unfortunately, once gums have started to recede, there isn't a way to force them to grow back. Make sure to brush with a softer toothbrush from now on. Depending on the severity of the problem, your dentist might recommend applying a sealant to hide any exposed roots.
- Minimize acid exposure. When you eat something citrusy, try to minimize the acid factor by eating it as part of a meal instead of by itself. Rinse your mouth out with water afterwards, then wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. The acid can weaken the enamel, which prevents the toothbrush from doing its job, and can actually cause tooth damage.
If home remedies fail to eliminate your pain, see your dentist, at Azarko Dental, for more advice on what to do. Make sure to always keep your teeth clean by brushing and flossing twice daily.