Every year around this time of year, Dr. Patel and our team get tons of questions about tooth sensitivity. Patients may learn the hard way that tooth sensitivity can range from annoying to downright painful, but often folks do not realize that the cold weather is the culprit behind chilly, sensitive teeth! Today, we want to take a closer look at some of the causes for tooth sensitivity and discuss potential treatment options.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
If you notice a stinging sensation in your teeth when drinking hot or cold beverages, or when eating a hot soup or cold ice cream, you’ve experienced sensitive teeth. Teeth can feel sensitive when tooth enamel (the hard protective surface) is damaged or thinned, or if your gums have receded, exposing the delicate inner tooth and root. Your tooth root has nerve endings that are responsible for that uncomfortable sensation, and when they’re exposed even a small amount, your teeth will feel sensitive when irritated by hot, cold, and/or pressure.
Another way to think about tooth sensitivity is to imagine a house in the middle of a snowstorm. Inside the house, you are protected from the storm and will feel warm and cozy — unless the window is open by a crack or the seams around the door aren’t quite tight enough. These cracks allow frigid air to enter the house and cause discomfort.
How Do We Treat Tooth Sensitivity?
At Jackson Smiles Family Dentistry, we have several options for treating tooth sensitivity. It may be as simple as wearing a nightguard when sleeping to address nighttime teeth grinding or changing the way you brush your teeth. Many people vigorously brush their teeth with an aggressive sawing motion because they believe it is either quicker or more effective than gentle brushing — but vigorous brushing actually will damage your enamel! Consider investing in an electric toothbrush with an internal pressure sensor and two-minute timer.
In other cases, we may recommend a special toothpaste or rinse that contains fluoride. Fluoride helps strengthen enamel through a process called remineralization. For severe sensitivity, we may recommend root canal therapy to remove the affected nerve. But whatever level your dental discomfort may be, we’re here to help find the right solution for you!
If you notice that your teeth feel painful this winter, we can help ensure they are protected and healthy. To ask us any questions about sensitive teeth or to schedule your next visit to our office, contact us today.Contact Us